Monday, September 18, 2006

John Adams on the King James Bible and Accuracy of the Bible's Text:

Time to bring back the John Adams quotation of the week feature. This set of quotations is to illustrate that Adams thought the Bible was errant.

We have now, it seems a National Bible Society, to propagate King James's Bible, through all Nations. Would it not be better, to apply these pious subscriptions, to purify Christendom from the corruptions of Christianity, than to propagate these corruptions in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America!


John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, November 4, 1816. Taken from James H. Hutson, The Founders on Religion, p. 143.

Elsewhere Adams makes it clear that he thought the Bible, as profound a book that it was, contained "error[s]," "amendment[s]" and suspected "fabrication[s]."

What suspicions of interpolation, and indeed fabrication, might not be confuted if we had the originals! In an age or in ages when fraud, forgery, and perjury were considered as lawful means of propagating truth by philosophers, legislators, and theologians, what may not be suspected?


John Adams, marginal note in John Disney's Memoirs (1785) of Arthur Sykes. Haraszti, Prophets of Progress, 296. Taken from James H. Hutson, The Founders on Religion, p. 26.

Finally, Adams's suspicion of the accuracy of the Bible's text lead him to doubt that we had the right version of the Ten Commandments in the first place.

When and where originated our Ten Commandments? The Tables and The Ark were lost. Authentic copies, in few, if any hands; the ten Precepts could not be observed, and were little remembered.

If the Book of Deuteronomy was compiled, during of after the Babilonian Captivity, from Traditions, the Error or Amendment might come in there.


John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, Nov. 14, 1813.

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